Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America

Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America

5.0 2
by Carolyn See
     
 

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The award-winning author of Golden Days and The Rest Is Done With Mirrors now tells her life story and that of her family--one in which heavy drinking and, later, recreational drugs, were something of a family tradition. A fiercely funny and deeply empathetic book which shows that the wild life, for better and worse, has made us what we are. Photos.


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Overview

The award-winning author of Golden Days and The Rest Is Done With Mirrors now tells her life story and that of her family--one in which heavy drinking and, later, recreational drugs, were something of a family tradition. A fiercely funny and deeply empathetic book which shows that the wild life, for better and worse, has made us what we are. Photos.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Award-winning novelist (Golden Days; Making History) and book critic See has a pungent, earthily feminine style that has never been put to better use than in this saga of her clamorous, perpetually inebriated family. Daughter of a hard-drinking, charming show-business hanger-on and an equally hard-drinking hellion of a mother, See also went through two chaotic marriages, countless gallons of tequila and white wine and enough mind-altering substances to knock her sideways for most of a decade before settling down, with two miraculously surviving and equable daughters and her elderly English professor companion, to become the quirkily admirable writer she is today. Her sister Rose, enmeshed for years in a life of petty crime, drug-dealing and appalling men, was not so lucky. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, all seemed somehow to be disappointed at what American (mostly Californian) life had to offer, and retreated into bottles, needles and pills. It all makes for wonderfully lively reading, but See's thesis that this is life for much of America's aspiring underclass doesn't quite ring true (perhaps it's simply that a preponderance of these goofily hope-addicted people wind up in California). And in the midst of all See's hard-headed, courageous and humorous observation, it is jarring to come across a paean to some of the more banal and outr of New Age gurus. What is lacking in the book, despite its many anecdotal pleasures and galloping readability, is any sense of a cultural context to Americans beyond a search for ways to feel better about themselves. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Without self-pity, novelist (Golden Days, LJ 9/15/86), English professor (UCLA), and book critic See here offers a sobering account of drug abuse in her family.
Donna Seaman
"Are you strong?" asked See's half-sister, Rose. And See answered, "Yes," and, indeed, she had to be to not only survive her life, but to write about it. A celebrated novelist, See has written an absorbing if chilling memoir that combines family history with a consideration of the major yet unacknowledged role that alcohol and drugs play in the lives of Americans. People turn to drugs and drink to "deaden the disappointments" associated with the often unattainable American Dream, See writes, but while she believes this form of "dreaming" leads to depression, divorce, and disaster, she is never preachy, judgmental, or simplistic about the motivations or consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Even after decades of coping with alcoholic and drug-addicted relatives, as well as her own drinking problem, See still understands the need for wildness, the lure and thrill of the "free fall," and the heedless drift into oblivion and poor health. This sustained honesty, ambivalence, and, yes, valor have enabled See not only to forgive her parents, husbands, and half-sister for their appalling behavior, but also to tell their stories with vigor, humor, pragmatism, and great narrative finesse. As See unsparingly describes her violent and harrowing 1940s California childhood and her hectic early marriages, which sputtered and died in a haze of drug-inspired delusions, she portrays each family member and loved one with dramatic intensity and hard-boiled compassion. It's obvious that See's passion for writing saved her sanity and broke the chain of suffering that strangled her family for generations. Perhaps her well-told story will help others, too.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307807274
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/19/2011
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
343
Sales rank:
293,100
File size:
7 MB

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